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Students and faculty at American University in Washington D.C., are mortified after bananas–hung in nooses, were spotted Monday on campus, NBC News reports.

Investigators are looking into the racially charged incident, after several bananas were hung from light fixtures with the phrase, “Harambe bait,” referring to the Cincinnati zoo guerrilla who was killed after a young boy fell into the exhibit. “AKA free,” was inscribed on other bananas calling out Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.–the nation’s first historically Black female sorority, founded at Howard University in 1908, less than five miles away from American’s campus.

American University president President Dr. Neil Kerwin, lambasted the attacks in a Monday statement, calling it an “act of bigotry,” and apologizing to all who were offended.

“Our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act,” Kerwin continued.

The bananas were discovered on the same day Taylor Dumpson, a member of AKA, took office as the first Black woman to head the student government association on AU’s campus.

“As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that ‘if there is no struggle, there is no progress,’ ─ Frederick Douglass,” Dumpson said in response to the attacks. “We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The AU community rallied in support of Dumpson, with many minority student organizations voicing solidarity over social media by using the hashtag #AUSupportsAKA.

According to the school’s newspaper, The Eagle, school personnel, members of AU’s AKA chapter and campus police met Monday evening to discuss next steps.

Reports of racially insensitive attacks have spiked in recent years. In the fall, two Black students reported bananas were thrown at them by white students while they walked campus.



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